The start of the school year is a time many students start putting thought into what disciplines to study for the remainder of their collegiate careers. Many on-campus resources such as the Center for Careers, Life, and Service are already in the full swing of advising students, such as the “Choosing Your Major” info session on Sept 21st from noon to 1 in the Joe Rosenfield Center. Here in DASIL, we thought it would be fun to investigate what Grinnell College students majored in over the years to illustrate the transformation of student academic patterns. Using data from the Office of Academic Affairs, Office of the Registrar, and the Office of Analytic Support and Institutional Research, we created two interactive graphics. One is a line graph presenting the number of declared majors over time from 1991 to 2015 by major and rank compared to other majors. Our second visualization is a geographic map with two layers: the US layer breaks down the proportion of students by state and major from 1985 to 2015, while the world layer illustrates the proportion of international students by country and major.
Click on the Details button below to find out more about the data for each visualization.
For the map:
- The Contents button() will display all layers. Unclick the checkbox next to the layer name to hide the layer. To view the legend, click on the “Show Legend” icon () below the layer name.
- To examine other majors, find the “Change Style” button () below the layer name you wish to view, then select the desired major from the “Choose an attribute to show” drop-down menu. You may alter the map with colors, symbols or size.
- Click on an individual country or US state to see available data on all majors.
For the line graph:
- Choose your major(s) of interest in the “Select a major to display” field.
- Hover over each point to display information on a major’s rank by class year and the number of students declared. Hover over a line to view the path of a major over time.
* Map made by Bonnie Brooks.
* Primary unit of measure is the proportion of Grinnell College students from a given state/country who majored in a discipline (incl. double majors) divided by the total number of Grinnell College students from the state/country.
* American Studies was available as a major prior to fall 2000. General science majors are included with their respective fields.
* Biological Chemistry (BCM) major offered beginning Fall 2003. Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies (GWSS) major offered beginning Fall 2009.
* Class of 2015 first class to graduate Studio Art, Art History, and Theatre & Dance majors; Class of 1994 first to graduate Chinese – Japanese majors.
* US shapefile from US Census Bureau; World shapefile from StatSilk
* Line graph made by Bonnie Brooks. Special thanks to Krit Petrachaianan ’17 for help with R.
* Displays majors that ranked in the top 5 most declared at least once between 1991 – 2015.
The Biology major holds the record for most students declared within this time frame, at 53 students for the Class of 1995. Since its creation, the number of students who major in Biological Chemistry increased leaps and bounds, ranking as the second most-declared major in the Class of 2015, tied with Psychology. Economics shows a general increasing trend over time, while majors like English and Sociology show erratic variability throughout.
American Studies majors appears to be representing the South and Southwest regions of the US, while Sociology is prominent in states located in the Midwest and, similarly, the South. A large proportion of students hailing from California study the hard sciences, especially Biological Chemistry. Surprisingly, there is a significant proportion of biology majors represented in most of the states.
Scoping out, the social sciences and hard sciences are popular disciplines among international students. Economics, Biological Chemistry, and Math are popular, especially in countries like China and India. Several humanities majors are not well-represented by international students, such as Theatre and Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies.